Landlords in Victoria will not have to pay land tax on vacant residential properties this year as part of the state government’s pandemic relief efforts, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas announced on Thursday.

In a statement, the government said the waiver was necessary as travel restrictions and heavy lockdown measures made property inspections impossible and left many properties vacant that would have otherwise been occupied.

The government estimated that the Vacant Property Land Tax waiver would allow property owners to save a total of $6m.

Pallas added that city car-park owners will receive a 25% waiver of taxes for 2020. Car-park owners can also defer any outstanding balances until next year.

The congestion levy reduction is expected to save car-park owners a combined $30m.

“These are small changes, but they will make a big difference towards getting to the other side of this virus,” Pallas said. “These restrictions are keeping us all safe, but they come at a devastating economic cost – that’s why we’re providing billions of dollars in support to those who need it most.”

Cressida Wall, executive director of Victoria’s Property Council, welcomed the announcement but admitted a lot of work must be done to stabilise the state’s real estate sector.

“We have been calling for these measures as part of our stimulus plan and [the] announcement will help our industry get back to work creating jobs and investing in Victoria’s future,” she said. “There is still more to do, and we will continue to work with the government to bring forward additional economic stimulus measures as soon as possible.”

Last month, the Victorian government announced a series of measures boosting residential and commercial landlord and tenant support amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the state.